A warning for all those women out there who resort to hormone replacement therapy (HRT)to tackle the menopausal symptoms. Please don’t go in for HRT, for, you are inviting more harm for your body and health than those hot flashes and mood swings.
A new study by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer states that HRT triples the chances of breast cancer in women. The study looked at 40,000 women who took the most commonly prescribed form of HRT for five years. The findings concluded that women on the therapy were more than twice as likely to develop cancer compared to the women who took nothing. The risk jumped threefold for those on the medication for 10 years or more.
“We knew it all along,” says Dr Ruquaya Ahmad Mir, Surgical Oncologist, Institutes of cancer, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi. “HRT is given when a woman is experiencing acute menopausal symptoms that hinder her day-to-day life, but it sure increases the risk of breast and abdominal cancer,” she says. “Even the drug Tamoxifen that is given to breast cancer patients as an anti-hormone (to block the actions of female hormone estrogen), has some side effect on the hormones and may cause abdominal cancer,” she adds, “but we do give it as it is important part of treatment.”
Dr Mary Ann Lumsden, Consultant Gynaecologist and Head of Reproductive and Maternal Medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland who has done extensive work on menopause and also runs clinics for menopausal women, opines that it is quality of life that matters.
“If a woman is having a hellish time going through the menopause, HRT is worth taking a risk,” she remarks. “Plus there are other factors like being overweight or an alcoholic that increase the chances of cancer,” she adds.
HRT is any form of hormone therapy wherein a patient receives hormones, either to supplement a lack of naturally occurring hormones, or as a substitute for naturally occurring hormones.
HRT for menopause is based on the idea that the treatment prevents discomfort caused by reduced amount of estrogen and progesterone hormones. In case of surgical or premature menopause, HRT may prolong life and also reduce incidence of dementia. The main types of hormones involved are estrogens, progesterone or progestins, and sometimes testosterone.
Besides being used for subsiding the symptoms of menopause, HRT is also given to transgender people to introduce hormones associated with the gender, the person identifies with, and to males suffering from hypogonadism or loss of testicular function. Among males it is also given to delay the onset of normal ageing.